clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ASU Football: House of Sparky freshmen and newcomer of the year

New, 9 comments

Who did we pick?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

ASU was going to be a young group in 2014, that was no secret coming in to the 2014 season. What not everyone expected was a 9-3 season with wins over teams like Stanford and Notre Dame. While the Sun Devils tumbled down the stretch, losing two of their last three, the maroon and gold still have a good amount to be proud of in 2014. Let's give out a few of our miscellaneous awards for the season.

Offensive freshman of the year: Demario Richard

He's 18 years old now, but he was 17 years old most of the season and most play-by-play and color analysts calling ASU games as well as almost everyone on Twitter wasn't going to let you forget it. He rushed for 437 yards and two touchdowns on 77 carries this season. He first turned some heads when he had a 46-yard touchdown run against New Mexico and then reappeared on the road against Washington where he had 54 yards rushing on 13 carries. He didn't score a touchdown that game, but proved to be what ASU needed in terms of physicality on offense against the Huskies. He had his only 100-yard effort of the season the next week against a stout Utah defense, running for 116 yards on 14 carries. Against Notre Dame, he caught what was the most important touchdown of the season to that point from Taylor Kelly to put the Sun Devils up 41-31. It put the game out of reach for the Fighting Irish.

Richard has established himself as a physical back with a low center of gravity who will definitely be a force on this team in future seasons.

Defensive freshman of the year: DJ Calhoun

This wasn't an easy call to make because Armand Perry had a steady season too, but ultimately Calhoun gains the edge for starting six games compared to Perry's two starts. Calhoun finished the season with 35 tackles, seven for loss and two sacks. As a player originally identified as a potential Devilbacker, then Spur linebacker before eventually landing at WILL linebacker, Calhoun did well for himself in Todd Graham's complex defensive schemes. As an early enrollee, Calhoun had an immediate impact last spring and was expected to continue to carry that on through fall camp. He had a lot of pressure on him with nine starters to replace including Carl Bradford on defense.

He didn't impact every single game but most freshmen aren't expected to. Calhoun was given Pac-12 honorable mention, a very commendable award for a freshman linebacker in a conference which included the Nagurski Award winner in Scooby Wright III this season.

Newcomer of the year: Jordan Simone

To be clear, newcomer in this sense is someone already on the team who hasn't earned a starting spot in the past. Marcus Ball was supposed to finally be healthy this season and compete with James Johnson in fall camp for the starting spot. Simone lurked around but wasn't totally in the conversation to have an impact. Eventually, he made himself the kind of player Graham had to keep on the field.

He didn't start the second game of the season against New Mexico, but then came out with a chip on his shoulder against Colorado and had an interception and 13 tackles in that game. He finished the season second on the team with 90 tackles and two interceptions. A nagging stinger kept him from making even more of an impact and he eventually missed the Arizona game. As a former walk-on, Simone also earned a scholarship this season. He also has a hard-working blue collar attitude on the field which makes it easy for Sun Devil fans to cheer for him.